5 Replies Latest reply: Jul 16, 2013 12:47 AM by clintonfrombirmingham
bill299 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

"That's why every computer user, even Mac users, needs up-to-date security software installed. Keep it updated and set it to run regular, automatic scans."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/05/26/5-signs-that-your-computer-is-infected/#i xzz2UQ6VfInw

 

As Apple gains marketshare, we become a more desireable target for these criminals.

 

What do you think? I don't want to be a victim.

 

Thanks


Mac mini (Late 2012), OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.3)
  • 1. Re: Do I need Malware protection in OSX?
    Topher Kessler Level 6 Level 6 (9,340 points)

    You will get many ideas regarding the "need" for antivirus and malware protection. Many people here are seasoned users who recommend against it, largely based on what they consider easy steps to either avoid or detect malware presence; however, (and in no offence to them) these steps are not always obvious to everyone, so it's largely a subjective matter.

     

    I recommend you give Thomas Reed's Malware Guide a read: http://www.thesafemac.com/mmg/

     

    This will give you a pretty good rundown on the details of the Mac malware scene and considerations for security software.

     

    Overall, however, a lightewight and free anti-malware utility will not hurt your system and can be set to only scan periodically to help you detect any known malware with minimal impact (if any) on your system. Unfortunately malware does happen, and while it is still rare in OS X and while does have a number of built-in options to help prevent it, the possibility is there and security software is simply another tool to help manage it, should you encounter it.

     

    Some such tools are Sophos Home Edition, and ClamXav. Others will work as well, but you may have to limit some of their default behaviors as they may try to activate full-heuristic scanning routines that can sometimes be a touch intrusive.

  • 2. Re: Do I need Malware protection in OSX?
    Barney-15E Level 8 Level 8 (35,295 points)

    Don't use your Mac stupidly on the internet.

    Don't install things from shady websites.

    Don't just enter your admin password when some website says you need a codec or plug-in to view their content.

    Don't use p2p file sharing.

    Be able to recognize phishing scams. They're easy to spot because legitimate organizations will not ask you for account information in an email. They will tell you to access your account via your normal web login, not provide you a link, which will be a fake website to mine your personal info.

     

    Market share has little to do with it. It's unix that makes it secure, but you can still allow yourself to get fooled through social engineering attacks.

     

    The built-in protections will prevent any existing known malware from being installed.

    There is no know Anti-Malware software that can detect a zero-day attack, which is one that nobody currently knows about except the attacker. Your brain is the only defense against that. Don't be stupid.

  • 3. Re: Do I need Malware protection in OSX?
    Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10 (118,285 points)

    1. This comment applies to malicious software ("malware") that's installed unwittingly by the victim of a network attack. It does not apply to software, such as keystroke loggers, that may be installed deliberately by an intruder who has hands-on access to the victim's computer. That threat is in a different category, and there's no easy way to defend against it. If you have reason to suspect that you're the target of such an attack, you need expert help.
      
    OS X now implements three layers of built-in protection specifically against malware, not counting runtime protections such as execute disable, sandboxing, system library randomization, and address space layout randomization that may also guard against other kinds of exploits.

    2. All versions of OS X since 10.6.7 have been able to detect known Mac malware in downloaded files, and to block insecure web plugins. This feature is transparent to the user, but internally Apple calls it "XProtect." The malware recognition database is automatically checked for updates once a day; however, you shouldn't rely on it, because the attackers are always at least a day ahead of the defenders.
       
    The following caveats apply to XProtect:
    • It can be bypassed by some third-party networking software, such as BitTorrent clients and Java applets.
    • It only applies to software downloaded from the network. Software installed from a CD or other media is not checked.
    3. Starting with OS X 10.7.5, there has been a second layer of built-in malware protection, designated "Gatekeeper" by Apple. By default, applications and Installer packages downloaded from the network will only run if they're digitally signed by a developer with a certificate issued by Apple. Software certified in this way hasn't necessarily been tested by Apple, but you can be reasonably sure that it hasn't been modified by anyone other than the developer. His identity is known to Apple, so he could be held legally responsible if he distributed malware. That may not mean much if the developer lives in a country with a weak legal system (see below.)
       
    Gatekeeper doesn't depend on a database of known malware. It has, however, the same limitations as XProtect, and in addition the following:
    • It can easily be disabled or overridden by the user.
    • A malware attacker could get control of a code-signing certificate under false pretenses, or could simply ignore the consequences of distributing codesigned malware.
    • An App Store developer could find a way to bypass Apple's oversight, or the oversight could fail due to human error.
    For the reasons given above, App Store products, and other applications recognized by Gatekeeper as signed, are safer than others, but they can't be considered absolutely safe. "Sandboxed" applications may prompt for access to private data, such as your contacts, or for access to the network. Think before granting that access. OS X security is based on user input. Never click through any request for authorization without thinking.
           
    4. Starting with OS X 10.8.3, a third layer of protection has been added: a "Malware Removal Tool" (MRT). MRT runs automatically in the background when you update the OS. It checks for, and removes, malware that may have evaded the other protections via a Java exploit (see below.) MRT also runs when you install or update the Apple-supplied Java runtime (but not the Oracle runtime.) Like XProtect, MRT is presumably effective against known attacks, but maybe not against unknown attacks. It notifies you if it finds malware, but otherwise there's no user interface to MRT.
     
    5. XProtect, Gatekeeper, and MRT reduce the risk of malware attack, but they're not absolute protection. The first and best line of defense is always your own intelligence. With the possible exception of Java exploits, all known malware circulating on the Internet that affects a fully-updated installation of OS X 10.6 or later takes the form of so-called "trojan horses," which can only have an effect if the victim is duped into running them. The threat therefore amounts to a battle of wits between you and the malware attacker. If you're smarter than he thinks you are, you'll win.
        
    That means, in practice, that you never use software that comes from an untrustworthy source, or that does something inherently untrustworthy. How do you know what is trustworthy?
    • Any website that prompts you to install a “codec,” “plug-in,” "player," "extractor," or “certificate” that comes from that same site, or an unknown one, is untrustworthy.
    • A web operator who tells you that you have a “virus,” or that anything else is wrong with your computer, or that you have won a prize in a contest you never entered, is trying to commit a crime with you as the victim. (Some reputable websites did legitimately warn visitors who were infected with the "DNSChanger" malware. That exception to this rule no longer applies.)
    • Pirated copies or "cracks" of commercial software, no matter where they come from, are unsafe.
    • Software of any kind downloaded from a BitTorrent or from a Usenet binary newsgroup is unsafe.
    • Software that purports to help you do something that's illegal or that infringes copyright, such as saving streamed audio or video for reuse without permission, is unsafe. All YouTube "downloaders" are in this category, though not all are necessarily harmful.
    • Software with a corporate brand, such as Adobe Flash Player, must be downloaded directly from the developer’s website. If it comes from any other source, it's unsafe.
    • Even signed applications, no matter what the source, should not be trusted if they do something unexpected, such as asking for permission to access your contacts, your location, or the Internet for no obvious reason.
    6. Java on the Web (not to be confused with JavaScript, to which it's not related, despite the similarity of the names) is a weak point in the security of any system. Java is, among other things, a platform for running complex applications in a web page, on the client. That was always a bad idea, and Java's developers have proven themselves incapable of implementing it without also creating a portal for malware to enter. Past Java exploits are the closest thing there has ever been to a Windows-style virus affecting OS X. Merely loading a page with malicious Java content could be harmful.
      
    Fortunately, client-side Java on the Web is obsolete and mostly extinct. Only a few outmoded sites still use it. Try to hasten the process of extinction by avoiding those sites, if you have a choice. Forget about playing games or other non-essential uses of Java.
       
    Java is not included in OS X 10.7 and later. Discrete Java installers are distributed by Apple and by Oracle (the developer of Java.) Don't use either one unless you need it. Most people don't. If Java is installed, disable itnot JavaScript — in your browsers.
       
    Regardless of version, experience has shown that Java on the Web can't be trusted. If you must use a Java applet for a task on a specific site, enable Java only for that site in Safari. Never enable Java for a public website that carries third-party advertising. Use it only on well-known, login-protected, secure websites without ads. In Safari 6 or later, you'll see a lock icon in the address bar with the abbreviation "https" when visiting a secure site.

    Follow the above guidelines, and you’ll be as safe from malware as you can practically be. The rest of this comment concerns what you should not do to protect yourself from malware.

    7. Never install any commercial "anti-virus" or "Internet security" products for the Mac, as they all do more harm than good, if they do any good at all. Any database of known threats is always going to be out of date. Most of the danger is from unknown threats. If you need to be able to detect Windows malware in your files, use the free software  ClamXav— nothing else.
      
    Why shouldn't you use commercial "anti-virus" products?
    • Their design is predicated on the nonexistent threat that malware may be injected at any time, anywhere in the file system. Malware is downloaded from the network; it doesn't materialize from nowhere.
    • In order to meet that nonexistent threat, the software modifies or duplicates low-level functions of the operating system, which is a waste of resources and a common cause of instability, bugs, and poor performance.
    • By modifying the operating system, the software itself may create weaknesses that could be exploited by malware attackers.
    8. ClamXav doesn't have these drawbacks. That doesn't mean it's entirely safe. It may report email messages that have "phishing" links in the body, or Windows malware in attachments, as infected files, and offer to delete or move them. Doing so will corrupt the Mail database. The messages should be deleted from within the Mail application.
        
    ClamXav is not needed, and should not be relied upon, for protection against OS X malware. It's useful only for detecting Windows malware. Windows malware can't harm you directly (unless, of course, you use Windows.) Just don't pass it on to anyone else.
        
    A Windows malware attachment in email is usually easy to recognize. The file name will often be targeted at people who aren't very bright; for example:
      
    ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥!!!!!!!H0TBABEZ4U!!!!!!!.AVI♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥.exe
       
    ClamXav may be able to tell you which particular virus or trojan it is, but do you care? In practice, there's seldom a reason to use ClamXav unless a network administrator requires you to run an anti-virus application.
        
    9. The greatest harm done by security software, in my opinion, is in its effect on human behavior. It does little or nothing to protect people from emerging threats, but if they get a false sense of security from it, they may feel free to do things that expose them to higher risk. Nothing can lessen the need for safe computing practices.
      
    10. It seems to be a common belief that the built-in Application Firewall acts as a barrier to infection, or prevents malware from functioning. It does neither. It blocks inbound connections to certain network services you're running, such as file sharing. It's disabled by default and you should leave it that way if you're behind a router on a private home or office network. Activate it only when you're on an untrusted network, for instance a public Wi-Fi hotspot, where you don't want to provide services. Disable any services you don't use in the Sharing preference pane. All are disabled by default.

  • 4. Re: Do I need Malware protection in OSX?
    JKJKKJKJKJ Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Linc Davis,

     

    Thank you for your very informative post. What is your position on the need for anti-virus software for Mac when running a virtual Windows machine via Parallels? Do you consider running anti-virus software (specifically Avast!) for Windows in the virtual machine only to be a sufficient safeguard?

     

    Many thanks,

    JK

  • 5. Re: Do I need Malware protection in OSX?
    clintonfrombirmingham Level 7 Level 7 (28,675 points)

    I just run MS Security Essentials in Windows 7 using Parallels. Never had a problem.

     

    Clinton